The international conference THE ROLE OF CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES IN SUSTAINABLE PEACE BUILDING IN SOUTHEAST EUROPE was organized in Strasbourg at the Council of Europe, on the occasion of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. Representatives of churches and religious communities had the opportunity to share their views with European experts and suggest how churches and religious communities can contribute to building confidence and reconciliation between nations and ethnic groups in the region in order to preserve the fragile peace. The conference was attended by representatives of all religious communities and churches of Southeast Europe, the ambassadors of the permanent delegations of Southeast Europe, prominent theologians and religious theorists. A bilingual publication containing the transcripts of the speeches was issued and presented in Strasbourg, Zagreb and Belgrade.


The TV series INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE AND PEACE IN THE BALKANS IN THE PERIOD 1990-2009 aimed to improve relations in the region of Southeast Europe. The project was implemented under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe with the grant of the Swiss Foundation for Peace and Crises Management. This significant series of three TV episodes with titles (1) Awakening the Balkans, (2) Past is Warning Us (3) Faith, Love, Hope was intended to demonstrate the need for dialogue among all citizens of our society with a special emphasis on the role of inter-religious dialogue and its value for society, for the individual and for peace.

2011 & 2012


In 2011 CIVIS started a cycle of three annual international semi-scientific conferences entitled Lasting Values and the Enduring Topicality of the Edict of Milan – Towards the Great Jubilee of 2013. The first conference You Should Believe What Your Heart Wants You to Believe was held in Nis on February 24 to 26, 2011. The conference brought together prominent historians and scholars, representatives of civil society, churches and religious communities that are dedicated to the study of the time, life and work of tsar Constantine, in order to reach out to the general public and show them the importance of the Edict of Milan in both the past and present times. In the same year, CIVIS and the Foundation published a bilingual collection of all the speeches and presentations given at the conference. The publication was distributed to all relevant parties in Serbia and the region of Southeast Europe.

The second conference of the cycle, called the Edict of Milan (313-2013): The Basis of Freedom of Religion and Belief?, was held in Novi Sad, on May 2-5, 2012. This conference brought together prominent experts, scholars, representatives of churches and religious communities and international religious organizations at the European level. This gathering, which received the blessing of His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Irinej, questioned the legal, theological and political aspects of the Edict of Milan and the current challenges to the freedom of religion and faith. The conference was organized by the Committee of the Holy Assembly to prepare the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan together with the Association of Southeast European NGOs – CIVIS, Austrian PRO ORIENTE Foundation and the Swiss Foundation for Peace and Crises Management. A special guest at the conference, who we cooperate with, was the Conference of European Churches.



The workshop THE ACCESSION OF THE WESTERN BALKANS TO THE EU – PROCESS EVALUATION was organized in Dijon (France) by the Bourgogne – Balkans Express Association, in partnership with Sciences Po Paris and the European Commission. The Executive Director of the Foundation Mirjana Prljević presented a project under the topic Economic actors and the process of adhesion – Can CEFTA be effective without a significant national reform? on behalf of our Association CIVIS. The project’s website soon received the official recognition Diskobolos – a special prize in the field of design, from JISA Brussels, in 2010.


The project NEW ECONOMIC DIPLOMACY – OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES is dedicated to issuing publications with the aim to increase the awareness, education and motivation of the society, so that the value of the new economic diplomacy can be analyzed at the micro, meso and macro level (of the state and economy) and Serbia would reach a better position on the world map. It is also aimed at finding a proper and understandable way to explain how the new economic diplomacy improves bilateral relations and contributes to the increase of foreign direct investment and trade, representing the interests of the economic policy led by the government. The project should make up for the insufficient presentation of the opportunities of new economic diplomacy to the professionals and the media, which is important for the future coordination of contacts and interests at global and regional levels. The publication was promoted in March and April 2012 in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Nis, Kragujevac and Novi Pazar, in the premises of the Regional Chambers of Commerce for the professionals, and on universities for the academic public.




During its First Annual General Meeting, the Association CIVIS organized the regional conference The Status of Civil Society in the Countries of the Southeast Region. Speakers were: Zoran Pusic, president of the Civic Committee for Human Rights (Croatia) and president of the CIVIS association, Boris Vukobrat, co-founder and honorary president of CIVIS, and Miljenko Dereta, Executive Director of Civic Initiatives (Serbia) and a member of the CIVIS association Executive Board. A special guest was Kiro Gligorov, the founder and president of the Kiro Gligorov Foundation. Participants discussed the influence of NGOs, which can be, in terms of some policies, stronger on the international than on the national level. They also discussed the ability of civic society members to influence decision-makers on one hand and challenge their lack of ideas and vision on the other hand.



CIVIS co-organized with the Civic Committee for Human Rights in Zagreb a Summer School of Democracy under the topic “Is it Possible to Have an Identity without Hate and Intolerance?“, from October 3-6 on the island of Brac (Croatia). More than 35 young participants and 40 representatives of NGOs or academic members from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, gathered on the island of Brac, in order better to understand dangerous social trends such as racism and chauvinism, and to learn how to foresee them in the future. The main idea of the summer school was for speakers and participants to identify possible sources of malicious forms of identity which can cause hatred and intolerance in their various social, cultural and economic modalities. When one understands the origins of an identity, it is easier to become resistant to its negative effects, abuse and manipulation, which often lead to many irrational conflicts.


The project LIVE WITH DIVERSITY AND USE IT focuses on the recently published document of the Council of Europe Living Together – Combining Diversity and Freedom in 21st Century Europe, a report made by a group of eminent experts. With the support of the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade, CIVIS printed the second edition of the publication which will be promoted among young people at the universities in Serbia in order to raise awareness about the many risks and threats in the twenty-first century and their possible solutions. Through its activities, the Association of NGOs of Southeast Europe – CIVIS supports European values such as peace, freedom, solidarity, respect of human rights and respect of diversity. Therefore, we think that it is very important to face the phenomena and challenges that exist in Europe and that Western Balkan countries are going to face in the near future and with which they are now inextricably linked. The project is supported by the Embassy of the Swiss Confederation in the Republic of Serbia and the Peace and Crises Management Foundation.


The project MEET HUMAN RIGHTS FOR A BETTER FUTURE  is intended for seventh and eighth graders from Vojvodina, from the cities of Novi Sad, Zrenjanin, Ruma, Irig, Sombor and Sremska Mitrovica. During one-day seminars held in March and April 2012, at the education center of Elektrovojvodina – Norcev on Fruska Gora, students, with the help of licensed educators from the Council of Europe, participated in creative workshops and quizzes and went through various examples of human rights, prejudice and stereotypes in order to learn how to deal with different situations in the future. The project was implemented with the financial support of the Embassy of the Swiss Confederation in the Republic of Serbia in partnership with the Directorate of Education of the Council of Europe and the company Elektrovojvodina Ltd. The project was supported by the Provincial Department of Education, Administration and National Union of Vojvodina.